The Crypt of Civilization is a sealed airtight chamber located at Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, Georgia, in Metro Atlanta. The crypt consists of preserved artifacts scheduled to be opened in the year AD 8113. The 1990 Guinness Book of World Records cites the crypt as the “first successful attempt to bury a record of this culture for any future inhabitants or visitors to the planet Earth.
The National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C., gave professional and technical advice for the artifacts and construction of the crypt. The bureau also recommended how artifacts should be stored. Many artifacts are stored in stainless steel receptacles lined with glass and filled with an inert gas to prevent aging, a concept later carried over to the Westinghouse Time Capsules. The chamber resembles a cell of an Egyptian pyramid with artifacts positioned on shelves and the floor.
Many of the artifacts for the Crypt of Civilization were donated, including contributions from King Gustav V of Sweden and Eastman Kodak. Suggestions for items to include in the crypt included items varying from “a pair of garters” to “a can opener” to “a dry martini complete with olive”.
Included in the crypt are airtight receptacles containing microfilm on cellulose acetate film containing more than 800 classic works of literature, including the Bible, the Koran, Homer’s Iliad, and Dante’s Inferno. There are approximately 640,000 pages included. A backup metal film system resides in the crypt as well. An original copy of the script for Gone With the Wind was donated by movie producer David O. Selznick to be included as well.
The crypt also contains voice recordings of historical figures such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, and Franklin Roosevelt. Unusual sound clips were also included, such as the cartoon character Popeye the Sailor and a champion hog caller.
Jacobs addressed those who will open the crypt in AD 8113 in a note hoping for future efforts for preservation, saying, “The world is engaged in burying our civilization forever, and here in this crypt we leave it to you.”
Peters placed electric microfilm readers and projectors in the vault to enable viewing and listening to these recordings. He provided a generator operated by a windmill to drive the apparatus, as well as a seven-power magnifier to read the microfilm records by hand in the event that the current form of electricity is not in use in AD 8113. Peters even included some current-day scientific instruments.
Unusual artifacts included are seed samples, dental floss, the contents of a woman’s purse, some Artie Shaw records, an electric toaster, a pacifier, a specially sealed bottle of Budweiser beer, a typewriter, a radio, a cash register, an adding machine, a set of Lincoln Logs, and plastic toys of Donald Duck, the Lone Ranger, and a Black doll.
Some of the last items placed in the Crypt of Civilization were steel plates of the Atlanta Journal newspaper reporting on World War II